MemphisRap.com recently caught up with founder and CEO of Heal The Hood Foundation in Memphis, LaDell Beamon. Beamon spoke about his organization Heal The Hood Foundation of Memphis, its positive efforts with the youth in the community, work with different celebrities like Master P, various events such as its' annual charity celebrity basketball game, upcoming projects and more.
Check out the full interview with the founder and CEO of Heal The Hood Foundation in Memphis, LaDell Beamon, below:
MemphisRap.com: What's up LaDell?
LaDell Beamon: Everything.... lol! Just really enjoying this season of my life.
MemphisRap.com: You are the founder and CEO of Heal The Hood Foundation. For those who do not know, tell them a little about who LaDell Beamon is.
LaDell Beamon: Sure. I was born in the inner city, raised by my mother and grandmother and I was placed in every situation that young men with my background have had to face. I overcame the odds by allowing Music to help me escape my geographical boundaries as well as my mental, social, and emotional boundaries. Long story short, God set me up for what I am doing right now. I've seen so much, but I have a story that is the opposite of those that have fell prey to ills of inner city life.
MemphisRap.com: Now how about telling them a little about what Heal The Hood is and what HTH does?
LaDell Beamon: When people hear the word "hood," their minds automatically go to something negative. A geographical location that has drugs, gang-banging and violence. We aren't literally talking about that hood. We are talking about motherhood, fatherhood, brotherhood, sisterhood, priesthood, whatever your hood is. When you tap into that "hood" and deal with whatever has interrupted that particular "hood," you have just healed the hood. A broken mother can't properly raise her daughter into a woman when her hood isn't healed. If she's allowing different men to come into her house and sleep with her over her children, she's not setting the right tone for her daughter. This interrupts the childhood and creates a ripple affect. Many people don't want to hear the truth in the form of lectures any more. We fuse entertainment with education (edutainment) to make it easier to distinguish. We use the arts to commuicate healing in a way that makes you think and reflect on where you are and where you are headed.
MemphisRap.com: When was Heal The Hood actually launched and how did you come about starting the organization?
LaDell Beamon: April 19, 2007 gave birth to Heal The Hood Foundation of Memphis. We had been touring the school system with a group of recording artists, actors and dancers with a tour that many know now as The Wake Up Tour. We gained a huge momentum, but after about 50,000 youth being reached, I still didn't see the impact that I thought the city was owed. I feel God spoke to me on January 11, 2006. There had been a murder for every day of the new year. Those murders continued everyday up until the summer. We got together and decided to do a movie that would star youth from the inner city that toured with us, local rappers, singers and dancers. That movement would development into Heal The Hood: The Movie. We premiered that film at the Muvico Theater Peabody Place to sold out audiences (2,000 plus) in one day. That day happened to be the anniversary of the Columbine High School Massacre. Heal The Hood Foundation of Memphis had now become like water. Though audio and visuals, we could travel to places that our tours couldn't.
MemphisRap.com: What is the difference between Heal The Hood Foundation and other youth organizations?
LaDell Beamon: I think many organizations are like fingerprints. We all are different, but HTH uses innovation that I have rarely seen on the Not For Profit side. I always tell people that when you love what's important to God (His creation), He will give you innovative ways to reach them. Let's just say that I have a lot of love for people.
MemphisRap.com: How are your views on the community different since launching your organization? Has your views changed much? And if so, what has changed about them?
LaDell Beamon: I use to think that I couldn't become more passionate than I was when I first started, but I am more aware and more passionate about things than I have ever been. I have lost over 18 children that were extremely close to me. I don't have any biological children, so I take what I do very personally. It was like those children died in my arms. My motivations have always been about youth, but now since I see things on a different level, I see why we must fight even harder.
MemphisRap.com: Heal The Hood has done a lot of work with No Limit and Master P, correct? How did HTH and Master P come to work together and what have you done together?
LaDell Beamon: Yes, I got a call from Percy T, of N.O. Vation Entertainment saying that Master P wanted to speak with me. Now, I went on this music fast for a few years of my life. During that musical fast, those were the days when P was extremely hot. I knew of him, but I was very green to what all he had done. Percy T. had been watching us for a few years and saw how constant we were with our approach to changing lives and Master P was looking for a solid way to give back to the Memphis community. HTH was about to do its first All Star Celebrity Game and P thought it would be a great time for Him and Romeo to come in. We have done Life Camps with hundreds of youth, Back To School Events, 1 Million Gifts and school tours together. As a matter of fact, we filmed Cymphonique Miller's video "All That" here in Memphis, which I did most of the casting on this end. It featured Subculture Royalty Dance Company, Romeo, and Lil P-Nut. That video went on to get nominated for 2 BET Awards.
MemphisRap.com: Heal The Hood has also done a lot of other projects, could you tell us a little about them (ex: "The Wake Up Tour," "Heal The Hood College Preparatory Program," "The Comic Studio" and independent films)?
LaDell Beamon: I am so excited about many of the programs that we offer to our city. The Wake Up Tour is the attention getter that has placed many recording artists and dancers on stage in front of youth helping to redirect the negative energy that comes running after our children. We have all shared the stage in front of numbers totaling to over 150,000 youth to this day. X-Camp, Dre, Radiance, Lil Buck, Passion and Purpose, Iyse Gibson, Lenora Mathis, Ladia Yates, Triz, Yung Taz, Yung Titan, Specmacular, Lil Rounds, and many more have joined forces with us to do huge things. These tours help us to guide youth in our other programs so that they can become more productive in there lives.
The Comic Studio is a creative of Martheus Wade, who is the illustrator of our comic book line called Wake Up Tour Evolution (Yes we have our own animated comic book). This studio gives access to comic book design and illustrating. It teaches youth and young adults how to publish you own work from start to finish. This is huge and more information about this is about to really shake things up.
MemphisRap.com: Speaking of "Hood," what part of Memphis are you from exactly?
LaDell Beamon: I am from South Memphis. Pine Hill Community.
MemphisRap.com: Can you recall any one thing in your life or a combination of things that sparked in your mind and caused you to want to make a change with youth or the community due to that incident or combination of?
LaDell Beamon: Marvin Robinson was a 15 year old kid that wanted out of his lifestyle. He left Memphis to go to Job Corp in VA. He came back to Memphis for Christmas break to see me and I was shocked that he came to see me at Carver High School. He told me that I had really impacted his life while he was in the Creative Life After School Program. He told me that when he came back home for the summer, he wanted me to pick him up and we could just kick it. Marvin never made it back to Job Corp. He was found in an abandoned house on Farrow Street in South Memphis with his brains blown out the back of his head. That changed my life forever.
MemphisRap.com: If there was a youth reading this interview right now and was contemplating doing harm to him/her(self), another person or even vandalizing his/her neighborhood or joining a gang, what advice or words would you have for this youth you think they should hear or know?
LaDell Beamon: I would tell them that they matter. Many times we don't understand how we impact the world. The decisions that we make in the moment could yield positive or negative results. Stop and think about what you are doing before you do it. Your decisions can cause you to Crash and Burn. Is it worth it?
MemphisRap.com: What are some challenges you are dealing with while running Heal The Hood?
LaDell Beamon: It's always a struggle when you are trying to do things the right way. You run into politics. When you are in love with people, politics get in the way. So as a not for profit organization, you run into people placing dollars into the hands of friends who are running organizations that are doing very little to nothing. I think that we should all be measured according to the volume of the work that we are doing. Politics will have you giving people money that are not being fruitful in the community and to those that don't have integrity. I love a lot. It hurts more when you see things as they are, but nevertheless, we must continue to more forward regardless.
MemphisRap.com: Ok, on another note, some don't know that personally you are also a songwriter, are you actively involved in the music industry?
LaDell Beamon: Let's say that music is my anti-drug. It's also a weapon that we use as a tool to educate and heal. Even though we have celebrity friends, we are the most non-industry people that you would ever want to meet. Even though [we] are a bout to release two major albums, we are still non-industry. I think the industry is not what it started off as. People don't have a heart for the arts in a way that is not selfish. It's about money, programming, and competition now. I chose to stay out of the way of that machine to a degree.
MemphisRap.com: What are your views about hip-hop today?
LaDell Beamon: I feel that Hip-Hop has become a tool of mass destruction in the hands of certain people. It all depends on the heart of those who are using it. Music is something that has to be used responsibly because it's so powerful. Hip-Hop has changed so much over the years. Hip-Hop use to make you feel good when you heard it. Now, it's just really dark to me.
MemphisRap.com: What do you personally listen to during your free time on your iPod, smartphone, computer or music player?
LaDell Beamon: Honestly, I have been bumping a lot of Heal The Hood's music that is about to come out. If I'm not listening to HTH stuff, I might be listening to TGT's album, John P. Kee's "Made To Worship," Darrius LE.V.I. Hill (I Can't Stop Rapping), Iyse Gibson (Man In Me), Miracle (Automatic Monday), April Jones (Thankful), most definitely Michael Jackson, Jacob Latimore's This Is Me Mix Tape, Trevor Jackson (Drop It) and "United We Stand" featuring DJon Johnson and Javiya Minor.
MemphisRap.com: Do you feel the internet / social media is important for Heal The Hood Foundation and how do you feel it has helped or changed how you run Heal The Hood?
LaDell Beamon: Yes, I feel that social media is going to be a huge vehicle that we have to use to do everything that we need to do as it relates to reaching a massive audience. I think that there are a lot of hurting people and we have to use social media like a location device to find them. I refuse to think that everyone is so selfish until we refuse to see what's right in front of us. I see so many youth searching for help and they are doing it in all the wrong ways. So yes... we got to use the power of social media as HTH.
MemphisRap.com: If there are some things that you would want people to know that they do not know about Heal The Hood Foundation, what would that be?
LaDell Beamon: I just want people to know that we have so much love for our city. Everything that we do is for you. Whatever you have seen from us is only a sample of what we are willing to do for you guys.
MemphisRap.com: If someone wanted to get into this type of work, what one thing would you recommend to them?
LaDell Beamon: I will tell people to deny themselves. This type of work is not about self promotion. If you are in it for you, you will Crash and Burn. Love has to be your motivation. If you love people, and aren't looking for quick money then I say follow your hurt.
MemphisRap.com: What are some of the latest projects you are working on?
LaDell Beamon: Wow! We have so much that is coming out in the last quarter of this year and the first quarter of 2014. We have been working on a movie project entitled "The Mix Up", a new book called "Hood Fables" (which is a children's book that is absolutely brilliant). We are about to release two albums, "Wake Up Tour Evolution: The Audio Movie" (October 2013 Release)," Heal The Hood: Life In 3D" (First Quarter of 2013), and a few huge music films, Hoops For The Holidays Celebrity Basketball Game (November 9, 2013) and a few other surprises. Get ready for the new season of Wake Up Tours as well. This season is called Wake Up Tour Unlimited. It's going to be amazing. Also look out for our new comic book, Wake Up Tour Evolution: Contamination due out this October along with the new CD.
MemphisRap.com: If someone wants to support or provide their support to Heal The Hood Foundation and don't have much time or money, how can they contribute to the foundation and/or become involved?
LaDell Beamon: We always need the community's prayer and please spread the word about the work that we are doing because everyone needs hope. We gotcha!
MemphisRap.com: Can anyone become a member of your organization?
LaDell Beamon: We are always looking for new people to come and help with the mission. It does require background checks and training sessions. There are a lot of myths about HTH and we would like for people to know who we are and what we really do before joining. People see the stars that support us and they think it's about something else. We are strictly about hope and healing. We have to make sure we say that or the celebrity stuff will blind you.
MemphisRap.com: How can people find Heal The Hood or get in contact with you and your organization online and offline?
LaDell Beamon: Our main office is located in the Hickory Ridge Mall, and second office is in Lanier Middle School. You can always get us online at www.hthmemphis.org or call us at 901-482-1615
MemphisRap.com: Is there anything that you would like to add or share?
LaDell Beamon: Memphis, and America... we are living in strange times, but if we remember to love each other we are one step closer to embracing hope. Support one another and uplift what's positive. Whatever we uplift, the most becomes the source of our strength. Make the right choice. United We Stand!